Q: Our dog is scheduled to have surgery in a couple of weeks. Our veterinarian has recommended a couple of pain medications for her after she returns home from the surgery. Does she really need to take pain medication? The last time she had some type of surgery she seemed perfectly fine afterward with no pain medication at all.

A: Yes, your dog does need to take pain medication after a surgery. Just because she didn’t show you symptoms of being in pain doesn’t mean that she wasn’t in pain after her prior surgery. Many dogs don’t show a lot of outward signs of pain, so it is easy to miss some of the more subtle hints that they may give you. Most dogs are also a lot tougher than people are, so they are able to hide and cope with their pain more than we are. Once again, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have significant pain.

It has been well documented for 20 to 25 years that pets are feeling pain after surgery. The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine was one of the first institutions to do significant research on this subject and published many of the initial pain control guidelines. Since that time, there have been probably hundreds of additional studies done to confirm the initial findings and build upon them.

Pain control is so important that in my practice we don’t give clients the choice of providing pain medication for their pets; it is mandatory. Although we can’t force an owner to actually give the medication, we can force them to get it and tell them that they need to do the right thing for their pet’s well-being and health. So take the pain medications that your veterinarian recommends and give them to your dog as directed and for as long as directed.

Got a pet-related question? Send it to Dr. Anderson, a veterinarian at Hawthorne Park Animal Care Center in Bloomington, via email at features@pantagraph.com.

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